pear tree log: I started this blog to keep my younger son, Jonny, in touch with life in Lincolnshire, while he spent a year working in China. That year turned into five! Now he is home and training to become a physics teacher. This is simply a patchwork quilt of some of the things I enjoy - life in rural Lincolnshire, our animals, friends, architecture, books, the gardens, and things of passing interest.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

It was the start of a life-long love affair ...

...and it's not over yet.  I am still madly, passionately, deeply, in love with them.  I don't mind whether they are tall, short, fat or thin, young or old, tell the truth, or fiction.  Books, books, books.

I grew up in a family that loved reading; we always had access to books. We were not poor, but neither was there a lot of money to spare for buying a constant supply of books.   I can remember the day I was enrolled at the public lending library, which was a mere four or five minutes walk away from home, even for my chubby little six year old legs.  
Back in the late 50's, my mother decided that I could read well enough to qualify to become a reader at the local library.  It felt like such a privilege, an important step in becoming more like my very bookish, very bright, older brother, Steve.   (Owl Wood wasn't around in those days).  

The library was one large, quiet, gloomy room with very high shelving, lots of dark wood, and oh, so many books.  Aladin's cave doesn't even begin to describe that place.  I loved it.  

The librarian was a woman and she commanded great respect from one and all, silence was the rule.  Any necessary conversation with her was carried out in very hushed tones.

I wanted to be a librarian.  It seemed like the most wonderful job in the world.  The lending system was based on little cards and tickets.  I think we were issued with two little ticket holders, which we had to hand in whenever we borrowed books.  They were just little buff-coloured card corners with our name and the name of the library.
(I borrowed this image from

After browsing the children's books and making our selection we would take them over to the librarian and hand over our books and our tickets.  She would then take the little card out of the pocket in the book, slip that into our ticket, and then stamp the book with the return date.

Our ticket was then filed - and oh how I ached to be able to do what she did as she neatly filed them all away alphabetically.  It looked the greatest fun - more fun than the stamping of the date, in my opinion!!

I soon progressed from reading books about marmalade cats called Marmaduke (how I love those words which begin with mar...  I don't know why!) to books about Milly Molly Mandy, stories about elves and pixies, etc.  Anything and everything.  

Somewhere along the line Ian (Owl Wood) was born, but that didn't stop Steve
and I from taking regular walks along to the library.  By the way, Ian doesn't have a wart on his cheek, it's a mark on the photograph.

I progressed on to the Enid Blyton books, so frowned upon at one time, but such a delight to me.  I adored the adventures of Mr Pink Whistle, then discovered the Secret Seven Adventures and lived their exciting lives with them.

Not long after Ian was born we moved to Hong Kong for a few years.  I attended the army school at Victoria Barracks, but that is for another post.  Back to the subject of libraries and books.

We joined the army wives library (even though my father was a civilian who worked for the RAF) and that was a whole new library experience.  Much smaller, lighter, far less formal, children and parents could choose books and chat.  Once books were selected we could go across the room and a waiter would serve us with drinks which Mother would pay for with a book of vouchers.  All very different!

Of course, since then I have belonged to many different libraries and they have become computerised.  The space allocated to books has been drastically reduced to allow for talking books, music, records, computers.  Their opening hours are being reduced all the time and the number of books we can borrow at any one time is about 30, as though any of us could manage to carry 30 books around with us.

We live out in the countryside and there is a mobile library service which calls once a month.  My husband and I are now the only people who use it from the village.  To tell the truth, we use it because not using it would mean that we would lose it.  Three elderly ladies from the village used to support it, but one has moved into Alford and uses the library there, and the other two appear at very irregular intervals.  

It is one of those services which people can't be bothered with - but once the choice is not there they may feel differently.  Grandson Harry has now been enrolled to help swell the numbers, he loves books.

I won't get into a gripe about the decline in library services, I really wanted to celebrate books and the large part that having access to books played in developing my love of them.  

Apologies for going on so long, apologies for leaving so much out.  I am trying to find a balance and I fear that this may turn into a multi-page post.


  1. THere is nothing I love more than books!! It pains me to see libraries losing funding and being closed. It pains me to see independent bookstores being closed! If this is the way of the future, I am NOT on board.

    My Nanny (Irish grandmother who lived in England) got me hooked on Enid Blyton because she sent me her books as gifts. :)

    I was always in awe of librarians as a kid. I still deeply appreciate them!

    I feel sorry for people who never read, and lack a love for reading. They miss out on so much!

  2. Hurrah for the love of books! This brought back a few happy memories of my first library card too!

  3. Oh yes! Libraries hold fond memories for our families also, they are the most wonderful places in the world.Where ever we moved that was the first place we found, the local library.
    I'm feeling quiltier and giltier as I write this, ok here it goes.....I got a kindle for Christmas. There I said it.(mainly for my trip to china!) I still prefer the real thing! laughing Linda

  4. My god, I was an ugly baby! Why did you not drown me when you had the chance?

    Enid Blyton? The best!

  5. We need to keep shouting to the powers who dole out money that without libraries there will be no civilization. Our little library went to five days a week to keep operating--at reduced pay. We keep shouting into the wind!

  6. Hi Knatolee, A round of applause for your Nanny, Enid Blyton stories were a great way of developing a love for reading! Independent book shops are an endangered species, more is the pity.

    Hi Nilhuanwen, Libraries are great places to help develop a love of books and reading. My daughter was delighted with the book which you recommended! Thank you!

    Hi Linda, Books and libraries are terrific. I've just had a read of a few pages on my older son's Kindle, I do see the practical applications (travelling, etc) but it will never replace books for me.

  7. Hi Owl, You were a beautiful baby!

    Hi Joanne, I must take care not to get on my soap box, but funding for libraries is constantly being eroded here; it's an easy target. We keep fighting, but it does seem a losing battle. We won't give in!

  8. I have not thought much about the decline in libraries until I came across this post. I bought a kindle last July. In that length of time I have read over 165 novels on my kindle alone. I didn't keep count of my hardcover political books that I also read. So I share a love of books with you. For every book I read on my Kindle, I also order the hardcover. I keep saying to friends that we rely too much on our mechanical "toys". What if that were to disappear! Where would we be without books. So, I continue to buy and save them for a future generation....
    I find comfort when I'm holding a book in my hands. Unlike you, I didn't grow up with the encouragement to read...but, I did find it on my own.
    I went back to your limerick post and read your response to my comment. I think my brain refuses to slow down long enough to think about a limerick. I will have to pratice some!

    1. We paid our monthly visit to the mobile library today - and collected books for four other people at the same time. It is a drop in the ocean, but I like to think we are doing our bit to try to preserve libraries - mind you, as, we staggered back home with more than 24 hardcover books the Kindle seemed the more attractive option!
      I wouldn't try too hard with the limericks - I only got into it because Natalie ( had announced a limerick competition and no one entered it immediately, so I felt I had better try to do one to show willing. It spread from there - it was quite a relief when my brain stopped churning them out!


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